This week’s Startup Spotlight features Look & Wear, a French company that lets you recreate and manage your outfits online and share them with your friends. Look & Wear also provides each user with a personal blog. Sina spoke with co-founder Sam Syamak Bavafa to talk inspiration, user and retail brand engagement, and what lies ahead.
1. What inspired you to create Look & Wear?
The idea came when I wanted to buy a new pair of white pants. I didn’t know how many white pants I already owned. I then asked myself if I still had a particular red shirt and if so where were they? So finally I asked, ‘how can I manage my wardrobe?’ I tried taking a picture of my clothes one by one and managing them in my iPhoto but I didn’t have a way of tagging the pictures with relevant information on the clothes. We soon realized that this was something we could develop a mobile application around. The original idea then was to have an easy-to-use mobile application where you could catalog your clothing and to ask people what they thought about them.
2. Helping consumers find the right fit is still a big challenge. As a result, we’ve observed a lot of new mobile startups in the virtual dressing room space. What sets Look & Wear apart from other mobile apps?
Look & Wear is different not only in its simple user interface but also as a place to have your own fashion-conscious community. Our mobile application allows users to privately access every item in their wardrobe but also allows them to share whatever items they want with their friends or the wider Look & Wear community. The user also has the option of selling their own items to the rest of the Look & Wear community.
3. Look & Wear allows users to create a digital closet, share their looks, shop on a marketplace, and write a blog. How can new brands/retailers and bloggers on your website’s blog leverage this approach?
Right now we have less than ten active bloggers. But what we’ve noticed is these bloggers are using our platform as a way of offering their own fashion advice to others. We’re excited that’s why they’re blogging on our platform! As for brands and retailers, very soon we’ll offer a way for them to have a presence on Look & Wear.
4. There is a ‘marketplace’ section on your mobile app where users can purchase items. Are you working with an affiliate model or does Look & Wear have partner retailers? How did you decide this was Look & Wear’s monetization model?
For right now the marketplace is for users selling to other users and we are putting our focus on growing the social network associated with them. Again, in the new future brands and retailers will have a presence on Look & Wear and be able to interact with our users. We’ve talked to a few brands and retailers and they have expressed an initial interest in advertising on our mobile app and later to have a presence in our marketplace. At that point, we hope to move towards an affiliate model where we get a cut of every item sold by brands and retailers through our site.
5. Look & Wear is a French-based startup. What has been the reaction of North American users compared to European users? Also what if any differences have you noticed between the two markets?
We launched in North America only eight months ago and we have yet to have a grand launch there. Our European users are our early adopters so we try out new features on them before we make them available for our North American users. We hope to have a big North American launch after some of our new features are hammered out.
6. What is your relationship with brands and retailers? What level of engagement are they seeing? Can you share with us an initial success story or two?
The brands and the retailers are very excited about the new channels we are opening for them in the near future. We’re not there yet but we will be soon. Right now Look & Wear is a place people come to who care a lot about fashion. We want to create a fun community for the fashion-conscious!
7. Are you currently building any ties with other fashion tech startups or brand retailers and what are your future plans?
We are currently not working with any other tech startups but we are open to talking with other companies in this space.
As for retail brands, soon we will allow retail brands and mixed-brand retailers to open up their own virtual storefronts on Look & Wear. User will have an avenue to communicate with the various brands and retailers. The data on who wears what size items and how many of their brand items our users have is very valuable to the them. It will allow the brands to tailor their offerings to our users. Down the road we imagine the brands and retailers will be interested in some of our data. We are also working on a new algorithm that will allow our users to take their skin tone, hair and eye color into consideration when matching various clothing items. The algorithm will give clothing recommendations based on these personal characteristics. It will also help connect users to each other who might have a similar profile.
8. Outside of Look & Wear, what other technologies at the intersection of fashion and technology personally excite you?
Modelization really interest me. Modelization allows consumers determine which clothes fit them the best and whether they want for custom-fit clothing. Choosing what clothing to buy starts with one’s body shape, then things like skin tone, eye and hair color. Those are the basics. I beleive clothing is the first layer over these basics. Fits.me, which is a virtual fitting room for online clothing retailers is one such startup in this space. The possibilities in customization they offer are incredible.